in nominal command and in the nominal administration of military justice long after it had become impossible for him to discharge such duties intelligently.
But that result had been practically reached a long time before General Sheridan
became seriously ill. He had long ceased, as General Sherman
and General Scott
had before him, not only to command, but to exercise any appreciable influence in respect to either the command or the administration.
The only difference was that General Scott
went to New York and General Sherman
to St. Louis
, while General Sheridan
stayed in Washington
I have always understood, but do not know the fact, that in former times the Secretary of War
had exercised some intelligent control over military affairs, so that there was at least unity in the exercise of military authority.
But in 1888 even that had ceased, and it had been boldly announced some time before that each departmental chief of staff, in his own sphere, was clothed with all the authority of the Secretary of War
All that a major-general as well as an officer of lower grade had to do was to execute such orders as he might receive from the brigadiers at the head of the several bureaus in Washington
It was not even necessary for those mighty chiefs to say that their mandates had the sanction of any higher authority.
Their own fiat was allsuffi-cient for a mere soldier of the line or for his commanding general, of whatever grade of rank or of command.
It is not strange that the Secretary
was finally unable to admit that he, great lawyer as he was, could possibly have given his sanction to such an interpretation of the law as that; but the decision was given by his order, and it governed the army for a long time.
Of course the adjutant-general became by far the chiefest of those many chiefs; for it is his function to issue to the army all the orders of both the Secretary of War
and the commanding general
Be it said to his credit